Question Of Context
Quite often the challenge in describing as cables inherent tonal qualities is that of context. Stock cables are a good starting point, particularly Plastics One cables which come with about 90% of customs and good quality IEMs.
These are usually 4-core OFC cables (sometimes 8-core and sometimes SPC) but the quality of the wire I find to be very relaxed tonally and lacking in dynamic range compared to some other cables.
Take for instance the Hum Pristine matched with Plastics One OFC. It is smooth, easy to listen to but very soft and lacking in dynamics. The transient response is just ok but I know I can get better with a better quality cable.
Throw in the Taurus and the changeup is noticeable. The Taurus doesn’t tinker too much with the core tone of the Hum Pristine. Instrumental timbre is still a typical copper tone with a liquid and rich even harmonic bias. However, in comes a big jump in dynamics as well as a tighter/pacier transient response. The staging quality is also more spacious, particularly in the mids.
In fact, the staging quality is perhaps the most immediate difference between the stock Plastics One and the Taurus. The Taurus sounds much more immediate but at the same time throws out a far more holographic soundstage with excellent layering and instrumental separation.
It simply makes the Plastics One sound very one-dimensional with too much happening in the mids and not much elsewhere.
The Taurus’s excellent staging is down to a more noticeable and better defined low-end presence as well as possessing superior headroom and air in its top-end. It makes a big difference, especially when paired with clean and neutral players such as the AK240 where I think copper-infused pairings like this excel.
Another big benefit of the Taurus’s superior staging is the space provided for vocals to shine. The Plastics One cable mids are compressed sounding. Smooth? Yes, but a little chaotic sounding with instruments almost on top of vocals positioning-wise with inadequate separation.
Articulation is not a forte of these types of cables and quite often little passages or instrumental sequences lack impact or simply pass you by without much impact.
The Taurus vocal performance is more engaging and slightly euphoric sounding. Sure the staging is bigger but vocals never sound lost. If anything, they sound a little further forward with much better body and detail. Combined with a more nuanced instrumental positioning they benefit immensely from that additional space the Taurus can deliver.
I dropped the AK240 into my sound description and for good reason. I tend to find neutral detail-orientated DAPs really matched very well with the Taurus.
It is not the case that warmer-sounding DAPs such as Shozy’s Alien Gold or the Opus#3 will not have a certain synergy with the Taurus because it will ultimately depend on the IEM you are using it with.
However, in most cases, neutral and clean DAPs such as the DX200 with AMP1, the FiiO X7ii, and the AK240 brought out the best balance between excellent detail and the cable’s richer texture.
As for IEM matching, it was a similar case, picking neutral IEMs or IEMs that could benefit with a thicker low-end or more natural-sounding mid-range.
I have to say though just because an IEM is dark sounding with a stock copper cable that does not mean the Taurus is not a possible match. In some instances, the results were surprising, especially in terms of upper mids energy and airiness.
Quality IEMs such as the Hum Pristine were lush but detailed sounding with the Taurus. High-end customs such as the A18 combined with the Taurus had a thicker midrange with clearer vocals than its own stock cable also. The A18 mids with its stock cable can often sound a little vague and recessed in comparison to the Taurus’s more prominent mid-range performance.
Mid-fi pairings such as the IT03 from iBasso had a smoother top-end and vastly reduced vocal sibilance which I much preferred to the stock cable’s edgier performance. Even the darker-sounding Aurisonics ASG1+ got a welcome lift in clarity and air with the Taurus compared to its stock cable. That was one of those surprising results I mentioned earlier.
Select Cable Comparisons
Effect Audio Thor II
The Thor II was our award-winning IEM cable of 2017. We defined it as a cable for all seasons. This is a 26AWG UPOCC Silver Litz variation with a multi-strand composition for both high and low-frequency capture.
The Thor II physically is a little thicker and denser than the Taurus with a narrower or tighter EA Ultra-Flex jacket braid covering a shorter distance between each overlap. Like the Taurus, you can get it in a variety of connections such as 0.78mm 2-pin, MMCX, Fitear as well as balanced 2.5mm and single-ended 3.5mm.
Though the plugs are different the finish on the terminations are a bit similar though I prefer the thicker Eidolic Premier 2-pin 0.78mm connectors on the Taurus. The lock mechanism is a bit sturdier on these compared to the Thor II.
Dynamics is the keyword when talking about the Thor II. This is a clean yet smooth performer with excellent clarity and articulation. It will give a major lift to any IEM you pair it with particularly in its low-end impact which is tight yet powerful sounding.
The Taurus takes a different direction opting instead for a more easy-going flow to its presentation. It is not quite as in your face and yes, it is a bit warmer and richer sounding. It does not have quite the same level of dynamic power as the Thor II but it is full sounding with more midrange emphasis.
The Thor II tends to bring the low-end, vocals and treble into focus with slightly less lower-midrange presence and instrumental body. Its timbre is a little more neutral and draws its power from a more responsive sub-bass delivery whereas the Taurus generally retains a thicker texture in its instrumental timbre throughout.
OC Studio Orpheus MK5 (8wire)
The MK5 is a UP-OCC 24AWG 8-wire 1.2m IEM cable with a similar price point to the Taurus and made in Taiwan. The higher AWG rating means it is a bit thicker and heavier than the Taurus. It also has a tighter braid finish in keeping more with the Thor II. That heavier gauge means it also has some heat shrink plastics for memory hooks to help balance it out around the ear.
OC uses in-house branded terminations for the MK5 including a cryo-treated OC 35CFRT 3.5mm jack and TCGP 2-pin gold plated 0.78mm sockets.
The splitter barrel is a nice red finish and slightly heavier than the gunmetal Eidiolic E-SX6 Y-Splitter on the Taurus. You can opt for alternative connectors such as 2.5mm balanced and MMCX/Fitear/Shure/UM Pro connectors.
The MK5 has a bit of a darker and denser tone than the Taurus tone. This is a planted and very thick low-end with fantastic impact and sub-bass rumble. It is not as open or sweet-sounding in its mids preferring instead to focus on depth and power.
Vocals are a little dulled out as a result and lacking in air but it is smooth and lacking in sibilance. The MK5 treble performance is not as well extended or as clean as the Taurus but it has a bit more body.
The Taurus has a more controlled low-end which, in turn, helps open up the mids a bit more. It is not as punchy sounding so I would take the MK5 for EDM but it does sound more balanced with more top-end air and better headroom. The Taurus would be my choice for more mid-centric rock and mid-tempo material.
Whiplash Audio TWcu V4 LITZ
The TWcu V4 Litz is a keenly priced 22.5AWG Litz design with a custom nylon center core design for damping and dielectrics as well as being cryogenically treated. This is the biggest of the cables compared and much heavier than the Taurus due to that large gauge size.
The cable braid is also more like the Taurus with that slightly looser and longer overlap compared to the tighter designs of the Thor II and MK5. The finish is also a little more memory retentive than the Taurus.
Our sample is finished with MMCX and a single-ended 3.5mm jack using Whiplash’s trademark wooden ball y-splitter. The finishing though on the connectors is a little bit more agricultural than the steel and chrome barrels of the Thor and Taurus.
Electrical tape wraps around the black connectors which I am not a huge fan of but given the price point and excellent AWG rating it is not a deal-breaker.
The Twcu differs slightly from the Taurus in a few areas. Both have a smooth sound with great vocal presence however the Taurus delivers a wetter midrange and a slightly sweeter vocal. It is arguable that the TWcu V4 delivers a slightly stronger upper mids and treble with more body but it is not quite as refined sounding as the Taurus.
Mids on the Twcu are a little further forward than the Taurus and in its favor is the vocal positioning which I find to be the more forward of the two. I still prefer the instrumental separation and layering on the Taurus. Instrumental positioning is a little flatter and less holographic on the Twcu V4 in comparison and takes a little something away from its staging as a result.
The TwCu V4 low-end has a little bit more weight and impact with the Taurus preferring a more laid-back signature. It still has a good body but just not as forward or aggressive sounding.
The Taurus pretty much does what it sets out to do and mimics exactly how Henry described it in our initial discussion. This is a copper cable but with much superior staging than I imagined it would deliver and a surprisingly open and holographic sounding midrange.
Instrument positioning is spot on with a sweet-sounding timbre and very finely textured vocal performance. It won’t hit hard, it is more languid than that but its headroom and generally balanced is very appealing.
Price-wise I think the $240 is quite fair for the 8-core version. Whether you decide to upgrade or not to the Taurus depends on the IEM you have and the current cable on it.
If it’s stock Plastics One then oh my yes get it and enjoy and fantastic upgrade to your IEM’s performance. Even on darker sounding IEMs such as the ASG 1+ the lift in openness and headroom was very surprising indeed.
Astral Acoustics Taurus Specifications
- 7n OCC copper
- Litz: Yes (Type 1)
- Gauge: 28
- Wire count: 8
- Connectors: Eidolic Premier
- Solder: Audio Note